Epigenetic therapy using ultrasound-triggered microbubble drug delivery for colorectal cancer

Project description

The project is an interdisciplinary, pre-clinical study that aims to investigate the response of colorectal tumour cells to treatment with epigenetic inhibitors (such as DNA methyltransferase inhibitors), as a potential combination therapy for colorectal cancer (CRC). As epigenetic modifications contribute to tumour growth, drugs such as decitabine or azacytidine that modify the epigenome have great potential for cancer therapy. Epigenetic drugs have the capability to target cancer stem cells, restore sensitivity of tumour cells to chemotherapy or to prime tumours prior to secondary treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors.

Colorectal tumour cells will be tested for response to combination drug treatments using 2D/3D cell culture and CRC models. Microbubbles will be generated using the University of Leeds patented microfluidic system, and will be combined with liposomes containing encapsulated drugs. The novel, therapeutic microbubbles will be developed further for combining contrast-enhanced ultrasound imaging with targeted drug delivery to the tumour vasculature. Ultrasound-triggered microbubble delivery can deliver drugs more efficiently to tumours, to enhance therapeutic response and to minimize off-target side effects.

The student will work closely with members of Professor Evans’ group in the School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leeds. The Studentship will involve training in a wide variety of techniques and research skills. These may include mammalian cell culture, drug testing using monolayer or spheroid/organoid cell culture, molecular biology and cell biology techniques to monitor epigenetic biomarkers of response, generation and testing of functional microbubbles in CRC models and drug delivery using ultrasound.

The student will be trained as part of an established, interdisciplinary team of clinicians, academics and research scientists- the Leeds Microbubble Consortium- that includes PhD students from other Schools in the University.

Entry requirements

This project is available immediately to both Home/EU rate applicants and International applicants who are able to self-fund their studies. Students must be able to provide the appropriate level of fees based on their fee status plus laboratory consumables costs per year. This is in addition to the provision of personal living expenses.

You should hold a first degree equivalent to at least a UK upper second class honours degree in a relevant subject.

Candidates whose first language is not English must provide evidence that their English language is sufficient to meet the specific demands of their study, the Faculty minimum requirements are:

  • British Council IELTS - score of 6.5 overall, with no element less than 6.0
  • TOEFL iBT - overall score of 92 with the listening and reading element no less than 21, writing element no less than 22 and the speaking element no less than 23.

Applicants with sufficient funding must still undergo formal interview prior to acceptance in order to demonstrate scientific aptitude and English language capability.

How to apply

Applications can be made at any time. Potential applicants are welcome to contact Dr Elizabeth Valleley with informal enquiries about this research project.

To formally apply for this project applicants should complete a Faculty Scholarship Application form and send this alongside a full academic CV, degree transcripts (or marks so far if still studying) and degree certificates to the Faculty Graduate School

We also require 2 academic references to support your application. Please ask your referees to send these references on your behalf, directly by email.

If you have already applied for other scholarships using the Faculty Scholarship Application form you do not need to complete this form again. Instead you should email to inform us you would like to be considered for this scholarship project.